Updated: Nov 27
Over the past couple of years, I've worked with a lot of different practice owners -- physical therapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors...specializing in sports, ortho, pediatrics, geriatrics, chronic pain, you name it. While the settings and professions can vary quite a bit, along with the delivery models (telehealth, mobile, gym-based, brick and mortar), the path to having a full client roster is typically pretty similar: business & admin setup, sales training, develop marketing strategy, and put systems in place.
As you can imagine, with a typical path to success comes a lot of the same FAQs, fears, and mistakes that are made along the way. These mistakes are crucial though -- by taking imperfect action that doesn't get you where you want to go, you end up learning a lot along the way, which helps you in the long run. However, if we can avoid a few mistakes here and there as we go, it definitely makes the road to success much quicker and a little less stressful.
In this post, we are talking about the top 3 mistakes I see new practice owners make and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not telling people about your business & waiting for patients or clients to find you
I don't want this to sound harsh, but I cannot tell you the number of times someone has contacted me and told me they're a business owner & they're struggling to find clients, but when I go to their profile, there are absolutely zero indications that they have a business. There are no links to websites, business pages, or social media, there's no profile photo, there's no cover photo, there's no bio. And when I Google them, I can't find anything. 🤦♀️
If your target audience cannot find you, how are they supposed to become clients?
This is only compounded by the philosophy of "I'll just wait by the phone, someone will call me," instead of getting out there into whatever community you can to build relationships.
Don't get me wrong -- this isn't easy. Technology isn't intuitive to everyone, nor is digital marketing. Lots of people are introverts (myself included) or have social anxiety, so the thought of trying to get out there and talk to new people can be challenging. That's okay. The important thing is that you try and you take it one step at a time.
Imho, at this point in time, you need to be able to be found on the internet. You need a website (basic is just fine), some social media (1-3 platforms), and an email list. People need to know how they can contact you and you need to be able to contact your people.
You also need to practice talking to people. This might be weird and hard when you first start, but it's one of those things where you just need to rip off the bandage. You don't even have to start with complete strangers, but practice explaining what it is that you do and the outcomes you help people achieve to people you know -- your partner, family, friends, colleagues. Get a bit more comfortable and then start reaching outside your circle.
If you'd like more guidance on what to say, check out replays of The 100 Challenge that I hosted in early 2021 in my Facebook group here (under the Guides section).
Make yourself known by building connections, sharing about what you do, and make yourself easy to contact online.
Mistake #2: Pricing your services based on feelings rather than facts
I SO wish I had done this when I first started my practice and when I started doing business coaching. It's probably one of my regrets when I first started along with not starting an email list with a lead magnet.
For some reason, when we go to price our services, lots of us want to know first, "What does a typical clinician charge?" or "What's the average rate per session?". Then we ask ourselves "What are people really willing to pay?" Our first instinct is not to look at the facts of what our business needs to thrive.
When you first start a business, there might be a lot of emotion attached to money for you. It's easy to let ourselves project those emotions onto other people and worry about what other people will think. Instead, focus on facts and on the numbers. Price things in a way that makes sense for you and supports you in your mission to help others.
While the answers to those top questions are totally fine to know, the priority when it comes to pricing needs to be looking at the facts of what you and your business need to succeed.
You need to consider the following:
How much do I want to work with clients? (hours, sessions, etc)
How much income am I trying to bring home every month?
How much do I need to pay in expenses and taxes?
How much do I want to save?
Of course, consult with a financial professional as needed, and this can be a good place to start for beginners.
Write out the answers to those questions, do the math, and come up with your numbers. If you're worried they're going to be completely outlandish, then looking into what your competition is charging might help and you can adjust as you see fit.
I know for a fact that if I had charged for my services based on this, I would have definitely made more money quicker than I did, but that's not even my main source of why I wish I had done it differently. Not feeling secure financially led to me feeling stressed out all of the time, my health took a hit, and it made it more difficult to continue to serve my clients and my audience. If you can cut this mistake out right from the get go, it definitely will save you a lot of that stress.
Mistake #3: Trying to sell your services rather than the outcome
For my newbies out there, this might not make a lot of sense right away. But hear me out. People don't buy services because they want the service, they buy services because they want the outcome. Therefore, in order to attract your ideal clients, you have the market and sell the outcome.
For example, you don't by a TV just because a TV is nice to have -- you buy it so you can watch football with your dad every Sunday, movies with your significant other, cartoons with your kids, Ghost Adventures by yourself (@ myself)... you buy it because it gives you the opportunity for quality time with your loved ones or solid alone time, giving you feelings of love & affection, laughs, or relaxation. In the end, it makes you feel good.
The same thing goes when it comes to running a service-based business and developing your marketing message & being able to discuss that in your sales conversations.
For us physical therapists, we don't sell "physical therapy"... when you try to sell a physical therapy session, people 1) associate it with insurance and will ask about that, and 2) associate it with perhaps not the best experience in the past, "it didn't work for me", "I did the same exercises every time so I don't see a point."
Therefore, don't sell "physical therapy" (or whatever you have to offer).
Market and sell the outcome that you have to offer -- when people work with you, they're able to run again, play with their grandkids again, workout again, do their jobs without fear of being injured, maintain a healthy lifestyle, socialize, feel good in their bodies. Whatever someone's goal is, devise a plan around that goal & paint a picture of the plan to get there. Sell the path to the outcome. That's what people are looking for -- a solution to their problem that they haven't been able to solve themselves or don't want to solve themselves.
Once you change the way you speak to express that, you will see much better results.
Comment below & let me know which idea you're going to tackle first!